Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What ever happened to ... original cub drummer Valeria?

Valeria's always been a bit of a mystery, huh? She played on cub's first album, but when she left the band, Neko Case filled in on tour, and of course Lisa G was on the throne 'til the end. So what's the story on Valeria?

Well. "Valeria Fellini" remained an artist and a contributor to Vancouver's artistic scene. Here's one of her pictures, dubbed "The Unwitting Darwinist":

But perhaps most famously, she made candy! Cub fans from the early days probably remember Valeria's handmade chocolates being tossed to the crowd.

Valeria Finnigan ran one of Vancouver's most beloved historic candy shops, Lee's Candies. She dished out mint truffles and some legendary chocolate concoctions produced in rare and historic chocolate molds, until fire destroyed the building in 2007:
Fire wrecks westside landmark
The Province
Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Fire has destroyed a sweet piece of Vancouver's heritage.

The Lee's Candies shop in the 4300-block of West 10th was left a smoldering pile of charred rubble after fire tore through it and two neighbouring businesses in the same building Tuesday night.

It took at least 60 firefighters five hours to knock the flames down. Three firefighters suffered minor injuries, one a suspected broken ankle.

Residents in the building fled. Tenants in a nearby apartment block had to be evacuated because of water damage, while three homes across the lane were flooded by oily water running off the smoking wood-framed building.

By dawn, Lee's, furniture store Form and Function and design shop Residence Interiors were completely destroyed. Battalion Chief Kelly Mullin said the four-alarm fire was a very difficult fight.

"There were false ceiling in the structure that allowed the fire to travel," he said. "It was extremely intense."

"The fire damage and the fire load [available fuel for the flames to consume] in there was tremendous."

Crews attacked the fire from inside then withdrew when the building structure weakened. The roof eventually collapsed.

Lee's owner Valeria Finnigan was too distraught to speak to The Province when she arrived to see the damage for herself. Her friend Karen Chandler said the "quaint" little shop with old candy molds dating back to the 1920s will be sorely missed. It's been producing handmade candies and chocolates from the same tiny location since 1950.

"My mum worked there. My sister worked there," Chandler recalled. "They were the best candies. Now that it's gone, it's really a sad thing. Hopefully, she'll be able to rebuild."

Finnigan herself used to work at Lee's as a candy maker and continued churning out his recipes using antique scales, vintage stoves, mixers and huge copper bowls.

Fire department Capt. Rob Jones-Cook said it's too early to say what caused the fire, though early indications are the blaze was not deliberately set.

More about the fire and Valeria's history at the store in an article in the Van Courier's archives.

What's she up to, three years later? I don't know. We know she rocked the kit in the early days and could do magic with chocolate, but other than that, she remains a mystery to me.

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